I wanted to start by thanking Yunwei tea for the opportunity to try all of these
amazing teas! They offer a tea "flight" which is a box of 7 of their best teas you can try all at once.
The tea flight only costs $20 and is a very good deal considering you can try 7 of the best teas from China in one shot! Make sure you know how to brew before trying them out though!
In this review, we are going to do things a little bit differently. I am attempting to brew the tea "gongfu style" which means lots of leaves, very little water and very short steep times. I will try to get at least 5 brewings out of each of these teas, but I may stop if I can no longer get flavor out of the tea. the first 3 steepings will be about 10 seconds and then I will add 5 seconds there on out. This is a very fun way to brew tea, and if you haven't tried it yet I would really recommend it. It lets you appreciate each layer of the tea at a time, instead of all at once. This is a good way to pick up on all the subtle complexities of the tea, and have a truly enriching tea tasting experience. Anyways, let's get started!
The smell of the dry leaves is definitely one of the most powerful aromas I have tackled out of these 6 oolongs. There is a smoky scent coming from the leaves, mixed with the natural earthiness it combines to paint a picture of how the tea was produced. The rocky soil and the roasting process combined to produce this wonderful treat of nature. I can’t wait to drink this tea!
The first steeping was quite powerful. The bold flavor of this oolong proved to be quite intense. I could taste the rich mineral flavor and the smokiness. The mouthfeel is a bit on the creamy side and the aftertaste is similar to that of coffee.
The smell of the wet leaves after the first steeping is very intense. Picture, if you will, a freshly burnt fire pit: smoky wood and hot stones. This is nearly the exact scent of the wet leaves.
The second steeping is smoother and milder. There is not this bold, challenging flavor that you had with the first steeping. Although I have grown to like this flavor, I imagine many new to Chinese oolongs might find it a bit challenging. There is a smokiness to the tea, but it is not quite as powerful as the first steeping. There is still a little bit of a grittiness to this tea, which I love, but it is more subdued than the last steeping. I am still noticing that coffee aftertaste, just as strong as before. So far I like the first steeping the most, but I expect that to change as time goes on.
I find it really interesting that as I take the final sip of this tea, I get the aroma of a crispy marshmallow. This is so unusual, I just had to mention it. I guess it is a combination of the smoky scent and the woody aromas.
The third steeping has really lost a lot of its flavor. You still notice a lot of complexity, a beautiful astringency coming forth at the end of the taste and a nice full-bodied flavor. Everything is just much less powerful than the last steeping. For the 4th steeping, I think I will add 5-10 extra seconds to really extract a little bit more flavor. This tea is still far more powerful than some of the other ones I have tried in the past from Yunwei.
The 4th steeping is quite smooth. There is very little bitterness and not a whole lot of astringency as well. Some of the finer notes of the tea remains. It is a very nice mineral taste that reminds me of a brisk winter morning. This tea is beautiful not because of its bold flavor, but because of its subtleties.
I decided to go a little crazy with the 5th steeping. I did about 20 seconds instead of my usual 10-15. I was able to capture a little more smokiness with this round, proving the tea leaves still had a lot to offer. The flavor is smooth and crisp this time around. I love the way a nice oolong can completely take over your pallet. A crispness in the back of your throat, a sweetness on the tip of your tongue, a bitterness on the roof of your mouth and an astringency on the middle of the tongue. This symphony of flavors coming at you all at once really makes you want to lean back in your chair and enjoy this wonderful creation.
With so much flavor coming from the 5th steeping, I decided to take it for a 6th steeping. I knew I could really get a good flavor if I kept it in for long enough. These long final steepings have been some of the most enjoyable cups of teas I have had from this gongfu style brewing.
The final steeping was sweet and crisp but not much else. It didn't produce the mouthwatering astringency that some of the other steepings did and it did not have that bold bitterness, but that being said, it was still a very enjoyable cup of tea. This tea was super strong in the beginning of its flavor and super mellow and smooth towards the end. I couldn’t have expected more from it and for that reason it is going to the top of my list.
#1 Meizhan Yancha Wulong Tea
#2 Almond Aroma Dancong Oolong
#3 Peach Kernel Aroma Dancong Oolong
#4 Zhengshan Chigan Red Tea
#5 Unroasted Peach Kernel Dancong
#6 Mengsong Gushu Sheng Puerh
With only one more tea to try, it’s pretty safe to say that this is the best tea of the bunch, but you never know what will happen! Soon I will be posting the final review so stay tuned!